Friday, 22 February 2019

chart of the moment

This animation, via Digg, of how the top fifteen global brands rankings have changed in the nearly two decades since 2000—set to a rather bracing soundtrack—ultimately proves to be a bit arresting, considering how business and economic models have changed (those rising to the top no where on the radar at the beginning of the video) and happy to see soda and cigarettes  recede but still a little shaken at the swiftness of the rise of tech giants—wondering if there’s much technology left in a sector so dominant.

pon de replay

Currently trending (which is a terribly presumption thing to say and assuredly no longer the case with as quickly as we are on to the next thing) is to find one’s abiding mood and moral compass by conducting an image search with Rihanna plus one’s birthday (day and month) to find the celebrity’s sighting that coincides with that day—and while I quite liked the results that I got of the Barbadian artist spotted on the set of the heist film Ocean’s 8 and think there’s nothing nefarious in this fun—I think it might make for a better daily horoscope if one went with the current date’s paparazzi photo—like this one of her leaving a private bash at Mayfair’s Novikov in 2010.

re: the sources of soviet conduct

Though never intended for public consumption but eventually published in Foreign Affairs magazine under the pseudonym Mister X eighteen months later, Deputy Chief of the Mission of the United States of American to the USSR George F Kennan dispatched his “Long Telegram” back to the State Department in response to questions by the Department of the Treasury as to why Moscow was not supportive of the newly minted institutions of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on this day in 1946.
Unable to articulate his answer succinctly—which is often a bit suspect of the author’s grasp of the matter at hand—as Kennan owes in the preamble to the five part thesis that overburdened the telegraphic channels. Kennan’s characterisation that Soviet power was “impervious to the logic of reason: but responded well to “the logic of force” and rooted in nationalism and neurosis—espousing a stance and ideology that would inform and define the policy of containment and excluded the idea of peaceful coexistence.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

it’s bananas—b-a-n-a-n-a-s

As part of a series of episodes on the topic of cartels and monopolies, NPR’s Planet Money takes a look at how the pendulum of US justice system swung from one extreme to the other in its view on mergers and acquisitions—from advocating consumer protection and the fostering of competition to the notion that the public benefited from consolidation and corporate imperialism.
The shift in outlook was largely due to the influence of US Solicitor General (elevated to that position due to the carnage of the Saturday Night Massacre) and DC circuit judge Robert Bork (*1927 – †2012)—whose views coloured the opinion of the Supreme Court (whose nomination to the high-court was famously blocked, coining the term to bork as a verb for obstructing or de-platforming) regarding antitrust matters from the 1970s onward and resulting in these giant conglomerates and inescapable subsidiaries. One of the legal scholars contributing to this piece described the government’s extreme stance on both sides as a kid—beginning with the best intentions—starting to spell “bananas” and not knowing when to stop.

life electric

First isolated in a riverbed in 1987 and quickly recognised for the potential as an agent of bioremediation for their affinity for heavy metals that are otherwise toxic to microbes (see also), geobacter excrete electrons as by-products of their metabolism. In collaboration with the University of Ghent, Dutch designer Teresa van Dongen has created—as a demonstration project—lamps (though the frame of the piece is more reminiscent of the body of a virus rather multiplying proteobacteria) powered by this singular bacterial discharge, quartering a colony in a battery where it can thrive—recharged on a weekly basis with a drink of tap water cut with vinegar.